In the reality of today’s fast-moving industries, the demand for infrastructure and innovation is, inevitably; indispensable. Looking around and observing the various structures in our own households, towns, cities, and regions, it is undoubted that modernization and urbanization remain at hand and continuous. Commonly, many of the interior structures of the buildings we see in urban settings are composed of a variety of metals– one of which, is a very particular kind: steel. According to an article published by Gunna Engineering in 2020, steel is commonly used in a vast array of applications that require framework strengthening and structural support. Structures such as roads, buildings, bridges, airports, and other infrastructures are often built with steel because of their offered reliable strength and fracture resistance. Additionally, “Apart from the construction industry, steel is also maximized in manufacturing appliances, equipment, and tools that are intended for daily activities.” Well, as the name suggests tool steel is most definitely used for the creation of handy tools & equipment needed for various industrial needs. With that, here’s a handful of information you need to know about tool steel!
- Tool steels are high-quality carbon and alloy steels (AZO Materials) that, are renowned for the qualities of hardness, durability, versatility, affordability, and accessibility, in consonance with the high demand and usage of common carbon-alloy steels in the industry.
- Tool steels are resistant to abrasion. That being the case, structures made up of tool steels are essentially less prone to deformation and mechanical wear & tear. This property ticks friction off the list of what could potentially damage tool steels.
- Tool steels are resistant to deformation. Linked with the aforementioned property, tool steels are indeed unlikely to deform over the course of time. The main reason behind it is, what constitutes tool steel (primarily carbon and alloy steels, and the likes) which makes it so suitable for heavy-duty materials and structural foundations.
- Tool steels can withstand great temperatures. Even under relatively high working temperatures, tool steels remain in good conditions for construction and industrial needs. Meaning to say, they do not easily soften, even so, melt, under high temperatures.
- Tool steels can withstand heavy loads. With this fact in mind, it furthermore substantiates the quality tool steel is known for: its durability. It is needed one of the determining factors which help those in the industry properly deliberate the best type of steel or metal to be used for a vast array of projects and industrial needs.
The Common Applications of Tool Steel
With the basic properties of tool steel in mind, many applications and uses pop up and come to mind. The qualities of tool steel include abrasion resistance, deformation resistance, withstanding high temperatures, and withstanding heavy loads. These all do indeed cater to the needs of a fast-moving industry in an evolving modern society. What seems to be a normal cutting tool or device at home, might just be comprised of tool steel, and, more so, benefiting from the wide scope of properties it possesses. This may range from your typical metal wrench to some of the more intricate parts of your computer. To further expound, tool steel is subdivided into grades, which stipulate the most suitable uses for the types of tool steel.
Below are some notable applications of tool steel with regard to their respective grades:
Water Hardening (W-Grade)
The Water Hardening tool steels, as the name suggests, involve the need for water quenching to achieve a certain hardness. That being the case, it is not the best for conditions that involve very high temperatures. On the bright side, it is high-quality carbon steel and generally more cost-efficient than the other types. Some common applications involve: cold heading, cutting tools and knives, embossing, reamers, and cutlery.
Air Hardening (A-Grade)
The Air Hardening tool steels are known to be very versatile. Due to the increased chromium content in this particular type, it also subsequently contributes to its amazing machinability and resistance to distortion and deformation even under high-temperature conditions. Typical applications of A-Grade tool steel include Arbors, Cams, Die Bending, Blanking, Coining, Embossing, Cold Forming, Lamination, Cold Swaging, Cold Trimming, Gages, Chipper Knives, Cold Shear knives, Woodworking Knives, Lathe Center Knives.
D Type (D-Grade)
The D Type of tool steels are quite similar to the air hardening types– however, this type is more of an upgrade due to higher chromium levels present in this particular tool steel type. This type specifically offers abrasion resistance and more of the air hardening qualities such as the aforementioned A-Grade steel. With that, some common applications are: Burnishing Tools, File Cutting, Paper Cutters, Die Bending, Blanking, Coining, Cold Heading Die Inserts, Embossing, Cold Extrusion, Cold Forming, Lamination, Cold Swaging, Thread Roll, Cold Trimming, Wire Drawing, Gages, Paper Knives, Rotary Slitters, Cold Shear Knives, Woodworking Knives, Knurling tools and Lathe Center Knives.
Oil Hardening (O-Grade)
The Oil Hardening tool steel type is one that exhibits a high carbon content and sufficient alloying elements which constitute its hardening when quenched in oil. This type of tool steel is very straightforward with its characteristics: resistance to abrasion and general toughness. It suits a wide variety of applications such as: Arbors, Bushing, Chasers (Thread Cutting), Collets, Die Blanking, Cold Forming, Cold Trimming, Drill Bushing, Gages, Knurling Tools.
Shock Resisting (S-Grade)
Shock Resisting tool steels, quite contrary to oil hardening type, is that it has low carbon content which makes them relatively tough. This type exhibits high impact toughness, and, in turn, is quite prone to abrasions. Some examples are the following: Battering Tools, Boiler-Shop Tools, Chisel Blacksmiths, Chisel Cold Working, Chisel Hot Working, Chuck Jaws, Clutch Parts, Collets, Cold Gripper, Hot Gripper, Cold Swaging, Hot Swaging, Hot Trimming, Chipper Knives, Cold Shear and Hot Shear.
Hot-Working (H-Grade) Hot-working tool steels are primarily used to cut various materials under high temperatures. What constitutes these qualities is a low carbon content along with an adequate amount of alloying substances. With these qualities of hot-working tool steels, the following applications are derived: Cold Heading Die Casings, Die Casting Dies and Cores for Zinc and Aluminum, Hot Extrusion for Aluminum and Magnesium, Hot Forging, Hot Gripper, Hot Swaging, Hot Trimming, Dummy Blocks (Hot Extrusion), and Hot Shear Knives.